Here’s a letter to USA Today:
Sally Kohn advises Americans to stop worrying about Uncle Sam’s gargantuan debt (“Don’t believe the hype about U.S. debt,” May 25). But her explanation for why this debt is benign – namely, that successful private businesses often have high debt-to-income ratios – is deeply flawed.
First, while private firms do regularly borrow to finance productivity-enhancing investments, the same isn’t true for government borrowing. Owners of private firms must repay their debts with their own money. Private business owners, therefore, have much stronger incentives to borrow and invest wisely than do politicians who repay whatever debts they incur by taxing other people.
Second, Ms. Kohn writes that “The United States generates approximately $14.5 trillion in GDP each year and carries, currently, $14.3 trillion in debt. That represents a debt-to-income ratio of roughly 1-to-1.” Wrong. U.S. GDP is emphatically not Uncle Sam’s income.
U.S. GDP is income earned by, and belonging to, Americans. To get hisincome, Uncle Sam annually taxes away some of this privately earned income. Uncle Sam’s income is this annual tax revenue – now about $
2.22.4 trillion – and only this tax revenue.
Even if, contrary to fact, Uncle Sam were powerful enough to confiscate all $14.5 trillion of Americans’ incomes, it’s as illegitimate for Ms. Kohn to count Americans’ entire incomes as income belonging to Uncle Sam as it would be for me to count my neighbors’ entire incomes as income belonging to me simply because I might be powerful enough to confiscate those incomes in full.
Donald J. Boudreaux
I didn’t have room to fit the following question into the letter: If every cent of U.S. GDP is Uncle Sam’s income, what does that fact imply about the solvency of state and local governments throughout America? (There are tons of other such questions to be asked about this absurd proposition of Ms. Kohn.)
(Thanks to Mark Steckbeck for helping to update my information on Uncle Sam’s current annual revenues.)
Miranda Devine – Thursday, May 26, 11 (08:45 am)
LISTENING to David Hicks’ speech to the Sydney Writers’ Festival last weekend, you’d think he’d been over in Afghanistan wiping the brow of AIDS sufferers and holding the hand of leprosy victims.
Certainly those useful idiots of the audience who gave him a standing ovation seemed to think Hicks was the Australian bloke version of Mother Theresa.
But just because some naive people think that being locked up in Guantanamo Bay and smacked around a bit was overly harsh punishment for suspected terrorists captured in Afghanistan just after September 11, 2011, that doesn’t mean they’re innocent.
We have seen from Osama bin Laden’s handwritten notes, discovered in his Abbottabad compound after he was killed last month, that the al-Qaeda leader looked for men just like Hicks to carry out his murderous attacks.
He looked for non-Arabs who would blend into local populations.
Dinky di Aussie Hicks, aka Mohammed Dawood, the Muslim convert who was also handy with a gun, made a perfect candidate.
Arabs arouse too much suspicion, wrote bin Laden in his journal, urging his senior lieutenants to time a big attack on a train in the US to mark the 10th anniversary this year of the September 11 atrocity.
He wanted them to find suggestible misfits and losers from Western countries who could be flattered and moulded into terrorists.
These young men didn’t walk around wearing devil horns. They were for the most part pathetic, like Hicks.
Bin Laden deliberately recruited weak-brained young men who would be prepared to strap a bomb to their torsos and walk into a hotel lobby and pull the pin, or who would fire directly into a crowd of strangers at a railway station.
Or even on a crowd of book lovers at a writers’ festival. Why do they think they would be immune?
Tim Blair – Thursday, May 26, 11 (11:34 am)
“It was a big problem because the vehicle was not designed to be towed,” said Mr Kelly. “It’s an armour-plated vehicle so there’s a lot of weight involved in it.”
Mr Kelly, whose son Keith attended the scene, said damage to the vehicle meant it could not be lifted in the normal way by its wheels. “It was tricky job, we had to adapt our vehicle to lift it because we wouldn’t be used to lifting American stuff … the lifting points on that were slightly different to what we would have on European vehicles,” he told RTÉ Liveline programme.
Mr Kelly, who said the suspension on the vehicle had been damaged, said the vehicle had to be brought back down the ramp because to bring it up the ramp would have done more damage.
Tim Blair – Thursday, May 26, 11 (10:21 am)
The New York Times reports:
A federal judge on Wednesday ruled that Jared L. Loughner was not mentally competent to stand trial on charges of opening fire at a constituent event for an Arizona congresswoman in January, killing 6 and injuring 13 …
“At the present time, Mr. Loughner does not have a rational understanding of these proceedings,” Judge Burns said.
The ruling came just minutes after Mr. Loughner was dragged from the courtroom screaming.
“Thank you for the freak show,” he shouted. “She died in front of me. You’re treasonous.”
Other witnesses heard him say, “Thank you for the free shot,” and court officials were reviewing the recording to confirm.
Tim Blair – Thursday, May 26, 11 (05:36 am)
The SMH’s Elizabeth Farrelly cheers diminished living standards:
A carbon tax that did not diminish our living standard would be futile and governments have no business promising, as Swan-Gillard rhythmically do, that petrol or electricity prices won’t rise or that big polluters won’t pay. The whole point is to impact us, and not in a good way. If it doesn’t hurt, it won’t work.
Andrew Bolt – Thursday, May 26, 11 (09:03 am)
Probably a bit OTT, and those words may be one day quoted back at him in scorn:
Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has told a gathering of Australia’s manufacturers they must fight the carbon tax or their industry will die…
“It can’t be fixed, it has to be fought, and if it’s not fought, the manufacturing sector in this country, I regret to say, is almost certain to die,” he said.
“I think this is as stark as that, the choice that you face - do you fight or do you die?”
Andrew Bolt – Thursday, May 26, 11 (07:00 am)
Australians are routinely accused of being too heartless to boat people, but I don’t think many will like sending them to Malaysia if these are indeed the conditions:
ASYLUM seekers shipped overseas under the proposed “Malaysian Solution” face the prospect of caning if they step out of line in detention.
Living conditions at refugee camps in Malaysia have also been condemned as crowded and unhygienic, with some inmates reported to have died from disease spread by rats.
According to Amnesty International, Malaysia flogs up to 6000 detainees a year, using a rattan cane that causes visible injuries and scarring…
Pressed on whether canings and the caging of pregnant women or children would be prevented, (Immigration Minister Chris) Bowen’s spokesman said negotiations were ongoing.
The photo is of the Lenggeng Immigration Camp in Malaysia. Just what guarantees Australia will get from Malaysia, I do not know. But Dennis Ignatius, Malaysia’s former High Commissioner to Britain and Ambassador to China, also warns:
Malaysia already plays reluctant host to tens of thousands of illegal immigrants and refugees. It is a well-documented fact that they endure great hardship and abuse.... All refugees are treated as illegal immigrants and are subject to arrest, detention, punishment, and deportation.
According to Amnesty International, more than 6,000 refugees are caned every year, while others have been trafficked to Thai gangs by corrupt local officials.
Given this situation, there should be genuine concerns as to the fate of those who are now going to be transferred from Australia
Andrew Bolt – Thursday, May 26, 11 (06:42 am)
Despite Infrastructure Minister Anthony Albanese’s muffled denials to me yesterday, it seems indeed that the Gillard Government is waging a jihad against the Murdoch press:
Upset with unfavourable coverage of the $308 million set-top box program, Communications Minister Stephen Conroy took the unprecedented step of undermining journalists who work at The Daily Telegraph by threatening to publish communications between them and his office.
Journalists at The Australian were also targeted, and on three separate occasions this week Senator Conroy’s media adviser Lyall Johnson sent to all media press releases containing detailed answers to questions generated exclusively by The Australian…
A spokesman for Prime Minister Julia Gillard said the strategy applied only to The Daily Telegraph and The Australian. Political commentator and former John Howard chief of staff Grahame Morris said that the move was a “vindictive and stupid way” to treat the media.
To explain to non-journalists: the tactic here to let other media know what exclusive stories the News Ltd papers are working on.
I’ll have more to say - and more examples to give - on The Bolt Report on Sunday.
That said, this may be less about trying to intimidate the News Ltd journalists than to warn the rest, most of whom work for less resolute proprietors and managers.
(Thanks to reader Grand Wizard.)
Andrew Bolt – Thursday, May 26, 11 (06:37 am)
This gets to the nub of it. From the transcript of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s address to US Congress on Tuesday:
The Palestinians have been unwilling to accept a Palestinian state if it meant accepting a Jewish state alongside it. ... our conflict has never been about the establishment of a Palestinian state; it’s always been about the existence of the Jewish state. ...
President Abbas must do what I have done. I stood before my people—and I told you, it wasn’t easy for me—I stood before my people and I said, “I will accept a Palestinian state.”
It’s time for President Abbas to stand before his people and say, “I will accept a Jewish state.” Those six words will change history. They’ll make it clear to the Palestinians that this conflict must come to an end; that they’re not building a Palestinian state to continue the conflict with Israel, but to end it.
(Thanks to reader Tasman.)
Andrew Bolt – Thursday, May 26, 11 (06:28 am)
Of the two, Peter Costello seems the more obvious candidate:
PAUL KEATING and Peter Costello are understood to be interested in a possible candidacy to succeed Dominique Strauss-Kahn as the head of the International Monetary Fund, while the Treasurer, Wayne Swan, said the appointment should be made on merit - but stopped short of advocating an Australian.
Ungracious of Swan. Terry McCrann canvasses the arguments for a non-European leader of the IMF - and the arguments against.
Andrew Bolt – Thursday, May 26, 11 (06:21 am)
If Labor’s former national secretary, Karl Bitar, does his new job well he’ll bring down the Gillard Government:
THE Prime Minister has sent a strong message to James Packer and his new lobbyist Karl Bitar - Labor is not for turning on its gambling reforms…
Mr Bitar, the recently departed ALP national secretary, has been hired by Crown Ltd and will be trying to get modified or defeated the proposed move to force gamblers to put prior limits on their losses…
Independent Andrew Wilkie, who has threatened to withdraw support for the government if he doesn’t get satisfactory action on gambling, will not comment on the Bitar appointment.
Andrew Bolt – Thursday, May 26, 11 (06:17 am)
I beg your pardon?
A CASINO chaplain says Australians are too superstitious and wrongly believe luck is on their side. Crown’s resident chaplain, Fr James Grant....
Andrew Bolt – Thursday, May 26, 11 (06:02 am)
Greg Sheridan has only just started:
MALCOLM Fraser’s memoirs, co-authored with Margaret Simons, are the most error-riddled, factually unreliable, tendentious, consistently nasty and overall disgraceful political memoirs I have ever read. Naturally they won the NSW Premier’s Literary Award.
This infamous award demonstrates why the Premier’s Literary Awards should be abolished. In their nonfiction section, at least, they are not about literature but promoting ideological conformity.
You can guess which ideology. A list of the book’s errors, deceits and shameful omissions follows.
Andrew Bolt – Thursday, May 26, 11 (05:54 am)
Former Labor Minister Gary Johns:
AT Nundah State School, less than 400m from Wayne Swan’s office, there is a tennis court. That tennis court sums up Wayne’s World as Treasurer of Australia…
There used to be a full tennis court at Nundah State School, a good little earner as the locals regularly hired the court. Then the Building the Education Revolution ... deemed that Nundah State School needed a new building. The fact the school was well provided for did not matter.
The new building was set down on the tennis court.... Well, it turns out that after building the deemed essential new building, there was insufficient room to build a new tennis court.
And so, to ensure there was a proper space between the fence and the baseline, the tennis court was built at 80 per cent the size of a tennis court. That’s right, 80 per cent. Of course, no child learns tennis on an 80 per cent court, and no local players hire it…
And this is the bloke who will oversee the “decarbonisation” of the Australian economy. Not credible, is it?
Andrew Bolt – Thursday, May 26, 11 (05:34 am)
Andrew Bolt – Wednesday, May 25, 11 (05:36 pm)
So Julia Gillard will get her tax, probably as low as she desperately needs, but only if she agrees to the very same kind of “direct action” spendathons that she rightly condemns the Liberals for promising:
THE GREENS have backed away from their hardline position on a high starting price for the carbon tax, conceding they won’t get the price they want in negotiations with Labor.
As the multi-party climate change commission prepares to meet over the weekend to hammer out a deal, Greens leader Bob Brown has conceded his party will accept a lower starting price for the tax than it believes necessary to ensure a start to the transition from coal to gas and renewable energy…
“I’ve had talks with big fossil fuel-involved corporations and they think about $40 is about the price that’s required if you’re going to get a transition from coal to gas and onwards towards renewables. But we’re looking at a package here of measures to get us in that direction. It isn’t just a price that counts,” Senator Brown said.
This compromise may possibly hurt the Greens, who may be blamed by conservative voters for giving us an unpopular tax, and blamed by the Left for agreeing to make it ineffectual, too - while Labor voters may conclude there’s no product differentiation now to tempt them into voting Green instead. The fate of the Democrats after compromising on John Howard’s GST is a warning.
Andrew Bolt – Wednesday, May 25, 11 (12:02 pm)
The United Nations guards our human rights by appointing as our judges nations that are without them:
This year’s election for the U.N. Human Rights Council has, once again, produced a body that has fewer “free” countries – 21 of a total of 47 – and has more than one-third of the seats held by members of the Islamic bloc.
Among the 15 countries to win seats on the Geneva-based HRC on Friday was Congo, which joins 11 other countries ranked “not free” by the democracy advocacy group, Freedom House, based on an annual assessment of political freedoms and civil liberties…
Despite the requirement that governments take into account candidates’ human rights records, the General Assembly – voting under secret ballot – has ushered onto the council a total of 19 “not free” countries, some more than once.
In most cases, they obtained votes well in excess of the 97 required in the 192-member General Assembly.
The 19, along with the number of votes they scored, are: China (won two elections, with vote counts of 146 and 167), Russia (137, 146), Cuba (135, 163), Saudi Arabia (126, 154), Libya (155), Egypt (168), Pakistan (149, 114), Algeria (168), Tunisia (171), Mauritania (167), Bahrain (172), Qatar (170, 177), Jordan (178), Angola (172, 170), Cameroon (171, 142), Gabon (178), Kyrgyzstan (174), Azerbaijan (103) and newcomer Congo (176).
(Thanks to reader Bernie Slattery.)
Andrew Bolt – Wednesday, May 25, 11 (11:57 am)
Matt Ridley asks - how renewable is renewable?
Last week the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a thousand-page report on the future of renewable energy, which it defined as solar, hydro, wind, tidal, wave, geothermal and biomass. These energy sources, said the IPCC, generate about 13.8% of our energy and, if encouraged to grow, could eventually displace most fossil fuel use.
It turns out that the great majority of this energy, 10.2% out of the 13.8% share, comes from biomass, mainly wood (often transformed into charcoal) and dung. Most of the rest is hydro; less than 0.5% of the world’s energy comes from wind, tide, wave, solar and geothermal put together. Wood and dung are indeed renewable, in the sense that they reappear as fast as you use them. Or do they? It depends on how fast you use them…
You may think I’m splitting hairs. Iron ore for making steel is unlikely to run out any time soon. True, but you can say the same about fossil fuels. The hydrocarbons in the earth’s crust amount to more than 500,000 exajoules of energy… The whole planet uses about 500 exajoules a year, so there may be a millennium’s worth of hydrocarbons left at current rates.
Contrast that with blue whales, cod and passenger pigeons, all of which plainly renew themselves by breeding. But exploiting them caused their populations to collapse or disappear in just a few short decades. It’s a startling fact that such “renewable” resources keep running short, while no non-renewable resource has yet run out: not oil, gold, uranium or phosphate.
(Thanks to reader Greg.)